Does foiling have a 3 year shelf life?

Obviously it’s not 100% true. But it seems somewhere around the 3 year mark the interest starts to wane and people lose interest in foiling.

If you ONLY prone foiled for example would you continue doing it? Many of the early adopters seem to have checked out. WestCoastFoilClub. Kookapinto. You rarely see Kai Lenny on a prone foil anymore.

So what is it that keeps our interest? Learning a new aspect? Wing/DW/SUP? Are we addicted to the learning a new skill, with super fast gains every session? Or are we enjoying the actual foiling that much?

I’ve been foiling 4 years. Pretty addicted to the wing lately, but wind has turned off and the lift ha90 has reinvigorated my prone sessions.

Probably depends a lot on your local conditions and what other activities you have access to. I also think just like anything else, when foiling is new to somebody and they are learning something new every session then the stoke level is high. Once that person starts to plateau then the excitement level for each sessions also starts to subside unless they’re mixing it up with new gear or are going to different spots.

Using myself as an example, I could see not being as frothy on foiling 2 years from now, but it’s also hard to see not wanting to continue keeping foiling in the regular rotation of activities just because our local conditions are generally terrible for surfing most of the time.


For me the question is, does it satisfy the following:

  • Progression and the associated flow
  • Gear innovation (real, not marketing fluff, see current surfboard market)
  • Shared interest with new people
  • Unknown direction given sudden innovation (this is the key ingredient - where can this all go)

Without all of these, the limit for me on these types of things is generally 2-3 years. I think adding a competitive element (races of some sort, not surf comps) could take this a bit further, and foiling is quite easy on the body, so no injury burn-out.

(learned to windsurf last year, barely registered as an interest for longer than a few weeks, but just learned it to add it to the competency list as I knew it wouldn’t stick and I had never really cracked it)

I see it going for a while for me. This is my 3rd year wake foiling and I generally try something new every session. I absolutely love wing foiling and would like to do some long coast runs. Unfortunately the New England summer is a bit sporadic and by late fall the water can be dangerously cold. I’d like to hit 1000 miles of wing foiling by the end of the year, which seems attainable assuming I head south in November. I still am trying to crack the code prone foiling. I have been able to make some connections but am nowhere near what I think my potential is. Stoked to improve on that and then there’s the whole DW sport. I see many years of mind blowing foiling ahead.


3 years is an extraordinary long time for anything to hold a person’s attention.

As we all know (but often don’t practice), external things -including the latest foil or a citation jet- don’t actually make us happy in the long-term. You must fix your state-of-mind.

There is a saying "loving relationships, a fit body, and a mind at peace; these things cannot be bought, they must be earned". Even Elon Musk/Gates/Bezos/Pitt/Clooney has to focus on family/friends relationships, exercise, and work on inner peace just like everyone else if not more so.

Foiling allows us to enter the flow state and therefore a meditative state of mind very easily but after awhile the technical difficulty wanes and it becomes necessary to consciously bring yourself back into that state.

This is why many surfers lose their chill after a couple years and revert back to “regular people” aka bitter/anxious/desirous, because with traditional surfing it is very difficult to spend any significant time in the flow state since you are waiting around so much and fighting for waves.

So, keep changing up your foiling disciplines and most importantly focus on maintaining/developing a mind at peace in and out of the water. Then even when the foil-thrill fades the joy will remain.


Exactly, we crave for bad feelings to stop, we crave good feelings to continue. In this way though, the benefits of flow meditation have their limits, as it’s a good feeling we want again and again. Actual awareness meditation trains you to let go of that craving. As Calvin said: “That’s the great thing about life, it’s never so bad it can’t get worse.” To that one could add:” That’s that bad thing about life, it’s never so good it couldn’t get better.”

I think foiling is hear to stay!
Feels like an evolution of surfing when the waves are small/ weak. Do not see myself ever not foiling to some degree. You can have so much more fun on foil vs long board or anything else when the waves are small/ high tide/ mushy/ ect. Prone and tow foiling to me are the pinnicle of fun, This is especially true when you can not get barreled normal surfing. So far I have not downwinded or winged enough to have the full foil froth like prone/ tow foiling. Even prone foiling with how good/ efficient HA foils are now you can be up on foil for minutes if in the mood. Or you can feel like turning and get on a mid aspect foil and turn/ get progressive in wash and not pump around and much. Conditions around where I live are not the best for wing/ downwind. Need to do a trip to the Gorge or to Maui to progress faster on Downwind/ Wing. More options equals not getting bored.


Agreed. You get a pleasure high from foiling. With time, practice and mastery your hedonic adaptation makes the pleasure high lower and lower, to a point where you loose interest.
Pleasure is a sugar high, as such it will never give you a lasting satisfaction.

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Listening to the first progression project podcast - discussing how the guest (chess/juijitsu champion) sees a plateau as a necessary accumulation phase, where you hone specific skills and skill combos to build up to pushing into your next break-through. I thought this was a positive spin and good motivation when the sugar-rush slows down and the progression feels like it stalls and the gear isn’t helping.

Another interesting thought from the Anders Ericsson interview - keep pushing yourself to progress until a point where you “like the look of your own foiling” **. This enables you to start creating and experimenting with style and tricks, rather than just following the beaten track. I thought this was an interesting idea. I never got to that point with kiting, climbing before losing interest, am still far off that on surfing (20+years later), but I really got to that point with skateboarding, and it made it that much more fulfilling and sustaining.

**the context was - when do you no longer need to push your kids to practice music or something, and the answer was along the lines of "once they like the sound of their own music, they will be motivated intrinsically, and not need the external push


I’m 5 years in and frothing harder than ever.
Foiling opens up endless downwind carving ocean windswells - not achievable with any other watercraft that I’ve seen. And with a windsurf sail it’s easy to fly back upwind.
After 30,000 kms on foil I’m always stoked trying to figure out how to carve harder and go faster.


I’ve been foiling 10 years … but in that time has been kite, sup, surf, wind, wake … and now efoil. I am now old enough to realize I am a serial monogamist with sports. It’s about the rush of advancing up the learning curve. Once I plateau, I start getting bored and move on to next thing. But often it’s actually not getting bored, so much as it’s frustration at not being easily able to advance to where I want to be, when the next steps get hard, I tend to bail out. The latest for me is the massive desire to improve flat water pumping … just can’t crack that nut … which means either settling for what I have or investing serious mental energy in tackling it … or quitting. Did I mention I got an efoil? :wink:

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Post video of your flatwater pump. Let’s break it down and see how to improve.


In July, I caught 400+ waves on a 5’6" SUP foil (tracked on the Surfline Apple watch app). Most days were 1-2, and 2-3 at biggest (Indialantic/Mel Beach). Been surfing a SUP for 10 years now, and am way more stoked on a foil.

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Which breaks do you surf? I’m down in Indialantic.

Sent you a message directly.

Hasn’t foiling just changed with Oscar hitting the 2hr 46 mrk (like the planets coming into alignment in Bill and Ted’s) and guys sup downwinding… what’s next? doesn’t seem static


This is me too, proficient in everything, seldom an expert. Eventually people get bored when they lose flow… This is the Progression project after all.

Probably just need a bit more discpline


Good one Matt. That really sums it up nicely. Anxiety is a good word for it – as when I hit the wall, first I get frustrated, then I get mad – particularly when it coincides with friends and online acquaintances who seem to be easily progressing past that obstacle. But fundamentally its anxious, as it gets embarrassing to not be able to do something that seems so “simple” to the peer group you aspire to.

Discipline: yes, pushing through requires mental strength. I have come to realize that coaching is important too. Elite athletes have people who help them achieve new levels. There is a limit to how far most people can go on their own. The sports I’ve pursued most of my life, coaching hasn’t really been a thing for regular folks…surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, vs golf or hockey. But interesting in foiling there actually are a few coaching options popping up. Clearly I am not the only one with this problem. Plus foiling demographic probably means there is more $ to throw at the problem, so an opportunity for the pros. :slight_smile:

Nice one, I updated the above based on your comment, in terms of what happens when you leave the flow

I wasn’t sure how to frame the anxiety part, but I think you nail it. Internet helps and doesn’t help, as there will always be the maniac with infinite time making it look easier than it is. Instagram fuels the progression but also the anxiety, which I think is a big part of it, and leads to lots of :dollar: gear purchases.

Regarding coaching and discipline, yes super interesting. I think again this is Anxiety driven rather than Boredom, but super interesting that it is cropping up in these non-coach oriented “sports”.

My take would be that Boredom leads to trying something new and moving on to a steeper progression curve in something else. I think the fighting the boredom needs to come from within a little bit, but maybe coaching could push you to fine tune your weak areas which in itself is rewarding.

As an aside, I maintain a running bet with myself that you cannot teach a grown man to surf :smiley: Despite all the coaches, I still don’t think it is possible and I mean properly surf (no true scotsman etc, and it only takes one black swan etc) I won’t link to the evidence, rather to the parody. I’m a crap surfer despite a life of surfing, and have yet to see someone learn to surf after their teens and develop an expert level and style (level grey areas aside).

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For me foiling is part of surfing, an innovation or step-change in equipment that allows me to ride different waves and tap into more of the ocean’s energy. It is still growing quickly as a sport as we refine and improve the gear which in turn allows us to tackle more and different waves and wave energy. Does it have.a fixed shelflife? Does surfing? I guess it does if you allow yourself to plateau and don’t find new challenges to keep you stoked. For me with prone the challenge has allows been to tackle bigger waves and make steeper drops. I don’t see this becoming boring or stale. Where I live in Piha, New Zealand, we have no shortage of swell but it’s not easy to tow (difficuly to launch) so prone is the go-to. We also get solid onshores for days and weeks in Winter so downwind will be the next challenge.